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Too Many Tools, Too Little Time

By Christine Dauchez posted 11-22-2023 10:32


Please enjoy this blog authored by Christine Dauchez, Knowledge & Innovation Attorney, Fenwick & West LLP.

Do you ever feel already buried deep under your projects, excited but overwhelmed by all the generative AI products and posts, wishing you had more time to find the right tools to do more, better, faster?

While it may seem counterintuitive, the best solution could be to take time to reboot. 

Focusing solely on hours spent can result in inefficiencies as work expands to fill the time, or burnout, as more work is squeezed into an already crammed schedule. There are only so many hours we can work in a day. We can, however, work more effectively – and be happier - by learning to manage our energy rather than our time.

As legal technologists, we are skilled at defining business needs and mapping processes to solve the right problems. In this post, I offer a similar approach to redesigning our personal workflows in three easy steps:

Step 1: Walk your why

To find joy in What you do and authentically express Who you are, start by defining your own unique Why. Like a company’s mission statement, your Why statement will help set direction, build engagement and communicate what you stand for. 

Here are a few thought-starters:

  • When are you at your best?
  • What inspires you?
  • When do you feel most energized?
  •  How will you measure your life?

With this reframing, we can move from straining to achieve externally defined goals to thriving in pursuit of our personal meaning.

Step 2. Give yourself a break

Once you’ve set your Why, you can reengineer How you work to create more capacity. Start with a self-assessment to understand how you currently manage your energy and to identify potential areas for improvement. The key to achieving peak performance, whether for athletes or knowledge workers, is to set aside time for renewal. Form habits to ensure you are replenishing your mind and body through proper nutrition, exercise, sleep and rest. Instead of trying to power through the day depleting your energy, take regular breaks to recharge. Express your gratitude, grab a coffee with a co-worker, listen to your favorite playlist or podcast, meditate, meet a friend for lunch, walk your dog, write in a journal.

Step 3. Get lost in the flow

Empowered by your Why and fueled by your newfound energy, you may become so absorbed by what you’re doing that is becomes effortless and you lose all sense of time. In this flow state, it is even possible to get more done in less time with greater satisfaction.

There is no secret formula for creating flow, but here are few tips:   

  • Block off time during the day when you’re naturally more alert
  •          Pick a task that is challenging for your skill level - not too easy that you’ll be bored and not to hard that you’ll be stressed
  •          Set a Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Realistic, Trackable goal that is aligned with your Why and that gives you a sense of control
  •          Create an environment where you can focus your undivided attention on the task at hand. Silence your phone and turn notifications off
  •          Approach the task with curiosity and be open to feedback. What can you learn? How might you do the task differently? What went well? What could be improved?

As computational power continues to grow exponentially, we also need to harness our uniquely human power sources, starting with our Why. Building rituals to renew our energy and to find flow can help us perform at our best, be true to ourselves and find happiness. Imagine what we’ll be able to do with generative AI!

Learn More:

Designing Work That People Love (